The latest version of this page moved to - Click here


aka The Wall aka I’ll Die for Mama 1975 174’ col Hindi d Yash Chopra p Gulshan Rai pc Trimurti Films s Salim-Javed lyr Sahir Ludhianvi c Kay Gee m R.D. Burman lp Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Nirupa Roy, Neetu Singh, Parveen Babi, Manmohan Krishna, Madan Puri, Iftikhar, Sudhir, Rajpal, Jagdish Raj, Kuljit Singh, Rajkishore, A.K. Hangal

Boasting one of the best-known Salim-Javed scripts, Bachchan’s hit crime film, told in flashback, relies on the familiar plot of two brothers, one of which is an exemplary cop, Ravi (Kapoor), the other a criminal, Vijay (Bachchan). The bridge between them is the mother they both adore, Sumitra (Roy) but whom Vijay cannot later visit for fear of being arrested. Vijay is the focus of the narrative as he works hard at menial jobs and suffers many humiliations to pay for his younger brother’s education. Embittered by the prevailing social iniquities, Vijay is recruited by a dockyard gang of smugglers and rises to become their leader. Ravi has to arrest him. Vijay decides to marry his pregnant lover, the dancer Anita (Babi), and go straight but she is murdered, causing him to become a ruthless vigilante while his mother gives Ravi permission to hunt down his wayward brother. Eventually a dying Vijay, shot by his brother, keeps his tryst at a temple with his mother. A phenomenal hit, the film repeats the ‘traditional’ proposition that kinship laws must prevail over legality at a very sensitive political and cultural moment: the year the Emergency was declared. Salim-Javed apparently modelled Bachchan’s character on the notorious smuggler Haji Mastan Mirza (a media celebrity as public enemy number one jailed during the Emergency and making a dramatic self-criticism afterwards). Although his fight scenes seem calibrated on those in Hong Kong action films, Bachchan’s sultry performance in the discursive scenes humanises the gangster, thus also humanising the contemporary nationalist law and order rhetoric used to legitimise dictatorial oppression. The mother-as-nation cliche, an extension of the nation-as-family cliche, both often deployed in Hindi films (cf. Mehboob’s emblematic Mother India, 1957), was mobilised here for a more ambiguous purpose: although the audience’s sympathies are directed towards the working-class rebel, the mother-nation reluctantly sanctions the legalised persecution of her well-meaning but misguided son, an action with obvious parallels in the political situation of the time.


Last modified 9 years ago Last modified on Dec 26, 2013, 10:33:43 AM